Kyle Larson held of a last lap charge from Christopher Bell to win the first race in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs.
The South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was a chess game for the drivers and teams from start to finish. Pit strategy came into play. Tire issues also had some influence. Overall, it was a typical race in Vegas with some gambles paying off and some gambles going bust.
Martin Trues Jr. was looking like he could challenge for the win early. However, he gambled by staying out when others pitted. It cost him severely in track position that he wasn’t able to regain until near the end of the race to salvage a decent day.
Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell appeared to be the cars to beat. Christopher started on the pole with Kyle next to him in the front row. Kyle had the dominant car it seemed as he led a race-high 133 laps and won stages one and two in the process.
Christopher was right there with Kyle all race leading 61 laps himself. He seemed to be just behind Kyle any time the #5 was out front. That was the case with the final laps of the race.
Kyle had a half-second lead as the laps were winding down. On the final lap, Christopher was able to race up to Kyle’s back bumper. Coming out of the final turn Kyle moved up to block as Christopher looked to use momentum on the outside to try to pass. The move appeared to slow Christopher down just enough for Kyle to beat him to the finish line.
The win was Kyle’s fourth of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season and second at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. More importantly, it gives Kyle the chance to race for the championship. The win makes Kyle the first NASCAR Playoffs driver to lock into the Championship Four.
Christopher Bell claimed second-place. Kyle Busch (who was eliminated from the Playoffs after the Round of 12) was able to finish in third-place. See the complete race results for the South Point 400 here.
With the win Kyle Larson obviously moves to the top of the NASCAR Cup Series point standings. William Byron slips back a spot to second. Denny Hamlin remains in third-place. Martin Truex Jr.’s late race rally allowed him to fall only two spots to fourth-place. See the complete NASCAR Cup Series point standings here.
Next up is the 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday, October 22nd.
By: Buck Stevens